Former Dow Jones Executive William Lewis Named CEO of The Washington Post
The Washington Post has appointed former Dow Jones CEO William Lewis as its new Chief Executive Officer, ending the search for a new leader to revitalize the publication owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos. Lewis is set to take the helm on January 2, 2024, stepping into his role at a time when the media industry faces challenges such as a sluggish advertising market, declining trust in news, and the potential impact of generative AI technology on information consumption.
In a leaked internal memo, Jeff Bezos reportedly expressed his desire for The Washington Post to “return to profitability.” The newspaper, which is projected to incur a $100 million loss for the year, recently announced buyouts as part of an effort to reduce its workforce by approximately 10%, leading to an expected reduction in the newsroom’s staff to about 940 journalists.
Jeff Bezos cited William Lewis’s background in “fierce, award-winning journalism” as the reason for his appointment as CEO of The Washington Post. Lewis’s vast experience in journalism and leadership positions makes him a suitable choice to lead the publication.
William Lewis will replace Fred Ryan, who left in June after a nine-year tenure marked by the expansion of the paper’s digital business but also marred by financial challenges. Ryan’s departure was influenced by concerns over the “decline in civility” and “toxic politics” in society and the media landscape.
Before departing, Fred Ryan presided over significant layoffs, during which about 2,500 Washington Post employees lost their jobs. Economic conditions and financial challenges were cited as factors contributing to these layoffs.
Patty Stonesifer, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, served as the interim CEO of The Washington Post following Ryan’s departure in August.
Jeff Bezos hopes that William Lewis, with his past experience, will help The Washington Post recover and thrive. Lewis, who served as CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal from 2014 to 2020, led a period of strong growth and digital transformation during his tenure. Under his leadership, the Wall Street Journal significantly increased its number of digital subscribers to over 2 million.
William Lewis also played a key role in negotiating deals with large tech platforms, including Apple, leading to substantial payments to the Journal and other publications. After leaving Dow Jones, Lewis founded a digital media startup called the News Movement.
Before his role at Dow Jones, Lewis worked at News Corp, Dow Jones’s parent company, which also owns the New York Post. He was previously the editor in chief of the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper and gained experience as a business reporter, covering mergers and acquisitions and funds management. Lewis also worked at the Financial Times, where he served as news editor.
The appointment of William Lewis as CEO reflects The Washington Post’s determination to navigate the evolving media landscape and address the challenges facing the journalism industry.